When you think about berries, the ones that typically come to mind include strawberries, blueberries and raspberries. One that usually doesn’t get mentioned often is the goji berry, which is also known simply as the goji or wolfberry. One of the reasons goji berries aren’t often associated is because they’re actually more closely related to foods such as eggplants and chili peppers despite the name.
Goji berries are typically eaten after being cooked, and is one of the staples in Chinese cooking. Though it’s not as common in the western parts of the world, goji berries can be found in a lot of different teas and supplements. If you can get your hands on goji berries, they make for a great addition to any diet because of what they can do for you. To show you exactly what we mean, here’s a closer look at the nutritional value and proven health benefits that you get from eating goji berries in your diet.
Nutrition of Goji Berries
Though it can be easy to eat more than one ounce of goji berries at a time, this small serving packs quite the punch. Each serving has just 23 calories, and provides a little bit of protein at six percent of your daily recommendation. There’s also a nice addition of fiber with about 10 percent daily value. In terms of vitamins, you’re getting half of your daily recommendation for vitamin A and more than 20 percent of the riboflavin suggestion.
Vitamin C comes in at around 10 percent while thiamin is closer to five percent. Minerals also make up a large part of goji berries, with more than 25 percent of the daily recommendation for both copper and selenium. Goji berries are a significant source of iron (14 percent) and those around five to 10 percent include calcium, potassium and zinc. As an added bonus, there’s less than a half gram of fat in goji berries and no saturated fat or cholesterol.
The most abundant mineral that you’ll find in goji berries is vitamin A, which is the most important nutrient that you can get to help your eye health. Goji berries provide you with 50 percent of your daily recommendation of vitamin A, which you might not be getting otherwise if you’re not eating a lot of fruits or taking a daily vitamin supplement. Vitamin A has been shown to slow down or prevent age related vision problems such as macular degeneration and cataracts, while also slowing down the loss of sharper vision in the eyes.
For those that spend a lot of time in the sun without strong sunglasses, goji berries can also help reverse some of the damage. Studies have shown that goji berries are packed with a certain antioxidant called plasma zeaxanthin that prevent free radicals from damaging your eyes and are even suggested to prevent glaucoma.
It’s estimated that in the United States alone, there are more than 100 million adults over the age of 19 that have high cholesterol. Out of these, 35 million have very high cholesterol levels of 240 mg/dL, which puts you at dangerous risk to heart disease. Controlling your cholesterol isn’t always easy, but adding more foods like goji berries is one of the natural ways to bring your cholesterol levels down.
Doctors are always trying to find the foods that can naturally lower cholesterol, and have found that goji berries are linked to a reduction in LDL (bad) cholesterol levels. While there weren’t too many effects on HDL (good) cholesterol, more people have a problem with having their LDL levels becoming too high.
Goji berries are packed with antioxidants that can boost your immune system and have you avoiding illnesses throughout the year and even years down the road. Antioxidants in berries are among the strongest in the world, and these antioxidants fight off free radicals in the body that cause a wide range of diseases that include cancer.
Free radicals attack the healthy cells in your body, which is what causes the spread of cancer and development of tumors. Some of the more important immune boosting nutrients you’ll find within goji berries include vitamin A, vitamin C, beta-carotene and zinc. Overall, goji berries can help reduce your chances of cancer pretty dramatically, and specific types of cancers such as skin cancer are the most affected by eating goji berries more frequently.
If you have problems with feeling sluggish throughout the day and need a natural energy boost that doesn’t have the crash that caffeine does, goji berries can help. Goji berries provide a better overall feeling through a couple of different ways. For starters, there’s an improvement to your digestive health by eating them, so you won’t feel bogged down as much.
Also, studies have shown that goji berries (and especially the juice) help your body produce more hormones that improve your mood and increase your energy. For this reason, a small amount of goji berry juice has been suggested as a drink for people that plan on strenuous exercise that day. Even people that tend to oversleep were able to wake up at an earlier hour without the typical morning “fog” that many see.
Genetics do play a part into diabetes, but a poor diet is the biggest contributor to this all too common disease. Changing the way you eat is the best way to avoid diabetes, and adding goji berries is a great start. Goji berries have been found to help people control their blood sugar levels because of their hypoglycemic properties. This allows your body to increase overall insulin sensitivity to keep glucose levels from crashing and spiking. Not every diabetic will benefit greatly from eating goji berries, however, but we’ll explain more on that in just a moment.
Summing it Up
For most people, goji berries will make a great addition to any diet, and are typically safe. One thing that you’ll want to check with before eating goji berries is the type of medication that you take. Goji berries have been found to have a negative interaction with blood thinning and diabetes medications, so always talk to your doctor to make sure what specific interactions you might encounter with certain foods.
You’ll also want to make sure that you’re not eating too many at a time as it can cause some problems with your sleep cycle. Because of the energy boost provided by goji berries, you might find it harder to sleep if you eat them at night opposed to in the morning. Most people won’t experience any problems when eating goji berries, so enjoying them in moderation is incredibly easy to do, as well as incredibly beneficial!